Survey shows pandemic creating heavier workload for South Dakota teachers

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:54 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t easy. Just ask South Dakota teachers. On Thursday, the South Dakota Education Association released the results of a survey of teachers.

To no one’s surprise, teachers are working more than ever. 76% say they’ve seen their workload increase this year, but that’s not their only concern.

Are you working more/less/ about the same as you did last year?
Are you working more/less/ about the same as you did last year?(NONE)

This school year is certainly one for the books as teachers navigate teaching during a pandemic.

“It’s been pretty crazy. It’s honestly a lot better than I thought. I mean there’s definitely challenges every day and it’s different,” said Dominique Strubbe, a 2nd-grade teacher at Elk Point-Jefferson.

The South Dakota Education Association surveyed 1,178 educators. The results show the majority of teachers believe school should be in person or should be taught as a hybrid model. Just under 16% believe school should be all virtual.

Now that you have been in school, what schedule do you think should be used?
Now that you have been in school, what schedule do you think should be used?(NONE)

One big concern for teachers this year is time. Almost half are working 45 to 50 plus hours a week. Many of those hours are spent preparing lessons for in-person and online.

How many hours are you working per week?
How many hours are you working per week?(NONE)

“Getting used to how to design a lesson plan in Seesaw or how to deliver instructions in Seesaw,” said Laura Morales-Weatherford, a 3rd-grade teacher at Sonia Sotomayor.

And trying to teach students who’ve had to isolate or quarantine at home.

“We go through a lot of material in one day and they need those skills and those skills build on each other. So at first, I was like ‘Oh boy, how’s this going to go?’ But kids are very good at adapting. So so far so good,” said Strubbe.

Some teachers are happy with their school district.

“Our district has done a great job at just supporting us, helping us through it. They’ve given us training. Anytime we have questions or a problem they are right here to help us,” said Strubbe.

However, nearly 58% feel they are not being listened to.

My district is listening to educator input as it relates to COVID-19.
My district is listening to educator input as it relates to COVID-19.(NONE)

“It would be nice if, you know the administrators, the school boards and the teachers could all get together, think outside the box and try to find a way to support each other and make everybody feel a little less stressed right now,” said Loren Paul, President of the South Dakota Education Association.

“Because the administrators with all the contact tracing they are doing, they have their hands full. And the school boards making tough decisions, they have their hands full. Everybody is just feeling overwhelmed right now.”

A teacher shortage is already happening across the state and the SDEA fears the pandemic will make it worse.

“It’s burnout from not feeling supported, not knowing what to do, not feeling safe,” said Paul.

For now, many teachers are trying to stay positive.

“It’s stressful sometimes, yes, but it’s rewarding at the end of the day to see the families, to see the kids striving to reach their goals even though you know we are in this pandemic,” said Morales-Weatherford.

Teachers also responded that they generally feel safe or are in-different with the safety precautions their districts have adopted. 20 percent feel unsafe and 8 percent feel very unsafe. Over half of educators (56%) also believe their district is providing enough PPE to protect themselves and their students.

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